The wine that dares to speak its name

02 May, 2008

Hooray for the enlightened vignerons of Ribera del Duero, who have produced a wine called Mundo Gay "to take a small step in making homosexuality normal", according to reports.

The wine is produced by Robeal in partnership with a group of other wineries in the region. "With gay marriage having been introduced in Spain and more liberty in the country, we wanted to take a step towards opening people's minds in the small agricultural area of Ribera del Duero," a spokesman explained.

This is not, readers may recall, the first gay wine, though it is arguably the first with a name that can be uttered in a public place without eliciting sniggers and Mr Humphries impersonations. Any takers for Kim Crawford's Pansy Rosť?

Alcohol makes you loud and dim

Health warning labels are likely to be introduced for alcohol at some point in the near future, either voluntarily or as a result of some government diktat. There is still some debate about how to convince the public

of the dangers of over-indulgence but copywriters have come up with a couple of front

runners. "WARNING: Consumption of alcohol may make you think you are whispering when you are not" and "Consumption of alcohol may lead you to think people are laughing with you" are apparently the favoured choices of DoH officials.

Any beer but Kilkenny

The Burnley Citizen recently carried a lovely profile of Alan Sagar's Rainhall Drinks Company, the award-winning Barnoldswick off-licence with an impressive line in beers. "Alan usually has around 300 different beers of the world in stock and he knows something about every single one of them," said the Citizen. "When it comes to beers, Alan believes there's something for all tastes from organic and fruit-flavoured beers to Trappist beer from Belgium." But as OLN readers know, you can't please everyone and the online version of the article has been appended with an inevitable reader's comment. It comes from a grumpy lorry driver who moans that Alan never has what he's looking for. Which might attract more sympathy if he wasn't asking for, er, Kilkenny.

Who's queen?

It's a scene that is sadly all too familiar in modern Britain. A woman in her 60s runs amok armed with a bottle of something alcoholic, before yelling something in front of a crowd of transfixed onlookers and smashing it against the side of a public toilet. Or, in this case, a ship.

But this wasn't just any old woman. This was Dame Helen Mirren, star of stage and screen, christening the P&O cruise liner Ventura with a magnum of Taittinger. And, just to kill the joke completely, it wasn't even her

who smashed the bottle. Instead, a team of Royal Marine commandos were given the task, having first abseiled down the side of the vessel.

Oh yes. He's the man

Churchill - you know, the wartime leader, rather than the jowly dog with a northern accent - has been voted England's ≠ultimate icon by the public in a poll commissioned by Wells & Young's Bombardier ale.

The cigar-chuffing, Champagne-swigging beach-fighter fended off stiff competition from St George, Lord Nelson and Shakespeare to win the vote.

But what's this? Spittoon understands that among the personalities scoring a single vote - and in the company of Mr Blobby, Ainsley Harriott and Roland Rat - was none other than Wells & Young's boss Paul Wells! Perhaps it was meant to be for his brother, Tunbridge.

Flights of fancy

For the perfect wine tasting, you need several things. Clean glasses. No lingering aromas. Plenty of light. And obviously, if you can get it, a nice view of the Andes from 60m above the ground.

That's what Familia Zuccardi, the Argentinian winery, is offering as part of its Let's Fly initiative, which allows visitors to Mendoza to explore the region by hot air balloon and enjoy sparkling wines as they do so.

Up to eight people at a time can drift through the Maipķ region, with just a wicker basket separating them from the vineyards below.

It all sounds somewhat less energetic than some of the other Zuccardi initiatives: Bike & Tasting and, even more ominous, Let's Harvest.

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